Hi guys and welcome back to the Mindset Coach Academy podcast. My name is Lindsey Wilson and it is beautiful here in Seattle because we wait all year. Yes, it rains a lot in the winter, but then the clouds part and it is absolutely beautiful. I've been thinking a lot about the weather and just how beautiful it is in the Pacific Northwest because of my next guest. Her name is Dr. Britt Gonsolin and I know her as Britt because we have known each other like forever.
We're going to talk a little bit about that in the episode. Anyway, we reconnected a couple months ago because she is a sports psychiatrist and just had a nice lunch and caught up on life as well and hadn't seen each other for a long time. We played basketball really seriously together and then we both went and played Division I basketball. She went to med school and studied at Tulane. She got her undergrad in kinesiology and exercise and sports sciences and then she got a postgraduate scholarship. She was a basketball scholarship like I was at Tulane and then she received a postgraduate scholarship to go to Tulane University School of Medicine, the MD slash MPH program and graduated AOA with a dual doctorate and public health masters degree and health systems management. She kept studying after that and then I think more came back to the sports side of it. She was doing a lot of clinical work and now does a lot of sports psychiatry. We really talk about the difference between what we do is mental training and then sports psychology and sports psychiatry. If you've ever been interested in that, we definitely dive into that. We talk about all the things, the pandemic and mental health issues with young athletes and what we should be doing as leaders in this space if someone needs a referral or is really struggling from a mental health standpoint.
What can we do as mindset coaches and mental performance coaches to help them in that area hopefully by finding someone like Britt who both has the medical background and the sports background. She's a really unique person and I know a lot of, we did actually live with a lot of our MCA students. That was really fun and I'm sure many of them connected with her as a resource to both learn from and to potentially send clients or for clients to her. This was a really deep, really necessary conversation for us to have and there was also just some really tangible things for all of us to take away, those of us that are leading or coaching or mindset coaching. She had a really cool acronym that I won't give it away but it's called the SET process. That was really good about how to coach better.
We talked about thoughts, feelings, actions, TFA and cognitive behavioral science. That was really cool. She just had some really great questions and answers and frameworks about stress and performance anxiety and pre-game nerves and all those sorts of things from a clinical standpoint. This was just a really great conversation.
Again, our mindset coaches were on asking live questions and that's the first time we've ever done that. That was just super fun and super cool. We talked about how beautiful it is right now in the Pacific Northwest.
We had some fun talking about that as well. She lives in one of the most beautiful places in the world, an island outside of Seattle where you just take this beautiful ferry ride. She has her practice out there but of course with Zoom, she works with people all over the country and potentially all over the world. I think that you're going to love this episode and I'm so happy to introduce all of you to Dr. Britt Gonsolin. Hi guys and welcome back to the Mindset Coach Academy podcast. Today we have a very special guest, Dr. Britt Gonsolin. Hi Britt. Hi everyone.
Hi. Now Britt is a sports psychiatrist so we're going to get right into it. I know like probably the last few years, the pandemic probably was a big part of it but we started talking a lot about like mental health, not just mental training and of course our expertise as mindset coaches is much more in the mental training and I know many of my students that are on, if you listen to the podcast, we have about 10 of our certified coaches on with Dr. Britt that I welcomed on to really have this conversation, a very important conversation about athletes, mental health.
So Britt, let's get right into it but first you guys, I have to tell you, you guys don't even know this, Dr. Britt and I go way back, right Britt? Yep. She sent me a bunch of pictures because we played basketball together, what we were 16, yeah 16, 17?
Oh my gosh, yeah 15, 16, yep. Our uniforms were enormous. Yeah, it was like the baggier the better and it was just way too big, like swimming in these uniforms that dates us a little bit. It totally dates us. It's like that state farm commercial where Chris Paul's wearing the like you know the pants shorts, have you seen that one?
It cracks me up every time, it's like you know the knee length basketball shorts and I'm like that was us. What were we thinking? What were we thinking?
You were trying to be cool. But what's really cool is to be able to talk to Dr. Britt about athletes, mental health. So my first question just to like lay the foundation is what is the difference between sports psychology and sports psychiatry? I mean I know you went, this is a clinical term, you went to a shit ton more school and I know there's the you know the medication component but like from a day-to-day perspective, what is the difference between a sports psychologist and a sports psychiatrist if you would?
Yeah, yeah it's a great question and one we get all the time. So sports psychiatry and sports psychology and even performance coaching exist along a spectrum. We can think of one end of the spectrum being more like sports performance training you know what you all do and then you know a little kind of more in the middle is kind of sports psychology and I'll explain this in a second and then kind of at the other end we have sports psychiatry and to some extent you know they overlap in portions of that spectrum. How I think of sports psychology is really occupying a role that that straddles sports performance you know coaching and then also like really getting into psychology and sort of the the basis of mental health you know for each athlete and that has a lot to do with you know how they've developed along their lifespan to to think and feel and behave in certain ways and so sports psychologists are trained to look at the psychology of each individual athlete and to essentially find leverage points within that psychological makeup that then can be identified and worked with to support optimal performance. Sports psychiatrists start as as medical doctors and then we get trained in in both the biopsychosocial elements of a person's sort of mental landscape and that means we understand the neurobiology and also the psychological construct and then also kind of the social construct of each individual that we work with and so you can see that some of those things overlap with psychology and some are a little different like the neurobiology and some of the more physiologic you know physiology and physiologic you know aspects of of an individual's you know mental and physical health so that's a another way to look at it is like I think sports psychiatrists see themselves as kind of the guardians of like overall mental health and physical health for like athletes. Sports psychologists might occupy kind of a slightly different mindset really related to like optimizing performance and keeping someone mentally healthy and then I think you all you know kind of the realm you occupy so I don't know does that answer your question? Yeah I mean I think one of the big things that I really want to talk about which I think really ties into this is like from a real-world perspective how do we know as mindset coaches when our skill set is not enough and we need to refer out I mean I think that's one of the biggest like underlying questions that people have and really fears right especially I think after the pandemic which really brought to the forefront of of the need it was probably already there right but just if so many people that's like okay this is not in our realm we're not trained for this and I don't know if this is a fair question but I think this is the thing that I always want answered so I'm gonna ask you like how do we know like when is the time to be like okay this is above our pay grade we need to get this person like real help and of course you can't again this is not a super fair question but just some things to I think think about. Yeah things to think about and I think for me it would you know if I were in your role and I was working with someone and I noticed that there were like I think of them as stuck points right places where even though you're doing an adequate job you know taking the time to train someone you know with a skill and knowing that they're practicing it if they're just still getting stuck you know and especially if that stuckness is accompanied by you know a lot of frustration or or the athlete themselves is is kind of questioning why they can't you know adopt a skill and and make use of it I mean I think those are times where you know you could say you know like gosh you know this is I'm working on this one skill but you know life's a big game too and sometimes we get into these stuck spots you know do you feel like do you feel like maybe it would be helpful to you know talk with someone else like is there something else behind that stickiness you know and you know there's no there's no easy way to bring that up sometimes it's really just getting to know the person and having an intuitive sense because you know them that maybe there's something deeper there something they might want to reach out and talk to you know a psychologist or a psychiatrist about yeah I mean I think that's like one of the biggest challenge and maybe the the answer is if you're like questioning it a lot that it's time to have that conversation right right and so if you're noticing inside yourself just having worked with a number of athletes and kind of recognizing how skills you usually get adopted and utilize you know if you're just seeing that there's a there's something there and it's not working and you notice the athlete becoming really frustrated with that then yeah I think it's it's a it's a good thing to pay attention to in yourself and could be something that then cues you to you know start talking about referring that person to someone who can sit down with them and look at it in a different way and I think um one thing that I'm just kind of thinking about as I um think about this is how how often we really need like different perspectives it's not like oh we're referring this person out and then we're done with them like I imagine that they could possibly like I mean you know people can be in therapy and also be working on their mindset like they're not absolutely exclusive no and in fact if you think of like sports medicine as one big umbrella you know we're really talking about the the overall health and well-being of any particular athlete and with under that umbrella I mean there's room for lots of different um you know views and vantage points right so most professional sports teams will have you know a performance coach they'll have a sports psychologist they'll have a sports psychiatrist in addition to the number of you know other sports you know professionals that we tend to you know associate with a team right your physical therapist your your trainers your you know um your team doc your orthopedist right so if we think of all of us existing under that umbrella for each athlete of just you know sports medicine really I mean all of us have a different role and and see things in a different way I love that that sort of holistic wellness approach is is really helpful um going more towards your expertise I know you guys Britt and I had lunch what like a month ago for like the first time in 20 years I don't really know we won't talk about that anyway one of the things we were talking about walking down the streets of Seattle were um was the the clinical things that are coming up more often in athletes and as people that are around athletes a lot I thought that conversation would be helpful for us as mindset coaches I know we talked a lot about ADD we talked about anxiety what are the other things that I don't know we should probably have our sort of antenna up in general and how is that manifesting and why is it so prevalent just talk a little bit about that yeah yeah um all good questions so I think if we take a step back and we look at like mental health overall I mean like you said before we're having more dialogue about mental health now then we really have ours I can remember and so you know part of I think what's happening is we're all culturally developing an awareness of of mental health of what people are experiencing and certainly since the pandemic began you know we've heard a lot about anxiety and depression and the fact that everyone kind of globally has been impacted you know by COVID and then I think you know looking at athletes um athletes are just like regular people you know in terms of the prevalence of mental health conditions and the things that often will lead to mental health conditions and in fact sometimes athletes can experience even higher rates of certain you know diagnoses or certain issues because athletes can sometimes have a personality structure or something that you know drives them into being an athlete as a way of coping, with a certain mental characteristic or trait. And so, for instance, sometimes we see higher rates of ADHD in athletes.
And I think it's around, like estimates are like maybe 8%, whereas in the general population, it tends to be a little lower than that. And there's some thinking that individuals with ADHD benefit a lot from the structure and nature of sports. And so that's why they can sometimes self-select into those sports.
And then I think a lot of athletes put themselves under a lot of pressure. And so sometimes things like anxiety disorders and things along that spectrum can pop up more. And I think each sport has kind of a different, like kind of a fingerprint for some of these tendencies for athletes to present with certain conditions. But in general, athletes are people too, and they're just coming to their sport with the same types of issues as people in general. As you were saying that though, I imagine there's also a higher prevalence, I don't know for sure, but eating disorders in certain sports, especially on the female side, right?
Correct, yeah. And typically those are sports that also have kind of a component of weight or appearance that tends to be prevalent within that sport. So things like figure skating or gymnastics or dance.
And so yeah, historically, I think we've studied female athletes in certain sports and have found that certain conditions, like those you mentioned are more prevalent. Yeah. Do you get a lot of referrals from like perform? I know you're working with a lot of universities. Do you get a lot of referrals from like mindset coaches or performance coaches that are like, hey, and how does that sort of process go? Yeah, I mean, it's interesting because pre-pandemic, I live adjacent to a big city, Seattle, but I'm geographically isolated across the water on Bainbridge Island. And so typically I haven't had a ton of referrals from coaches kind of in the community there. It's really come more from community here on my side of the water and people that know, oh, Dr. Britt, she was an athlete.
She probably knows something about performance and what it's like to get injured or something relative to sports. And so I've had a lot of referrals just kind of in that way. And then I think increasingly more as I have developed telehealth practice, referrals more from coaches and performance specialists. But definitely that's a newer element of my practice.
Yeah, that's awesome. I mean, I'm just thinking like if I needed to, I mean, obviously I have you now, but before like people have actually been like, where do I go? So where do people go? Yeah, okay, so this is a great question. So depending on where you're located, I think sports psychiatrists are definitely, I mean, I guess psychiatrists in general, we call ourselves unicorns because we're kind of hard to find, right?
There's not a lot of us. And I think sports psychologists are definitely probably more prevalent than sports psychiatrists. And so if you yourself are working with an athlete and have questions or find yourself wondering about this a lot, it would be good to reach out and just contact a clinical sports psychologist and just get to know them and say, hey, I work with athletes. I have these questions that come up every now and then, could we just have kind of a phone line to one another, periodically just to discuss things that might come up? And you can always talk about a person you might be working with anonymously and just say, hey, here's the issue I keep coming up against and I'm just wondering what your perspective would be. So I think just reaching out and getting connected to someone who does this for their line of work would be great because then you'd have that ability to reach out and ask those questions.
And hopefully in your area, there's also a psychiatrist that works clinically with patients, but may also have a background in sports or at least just a willingness to look at sports and performance along with the work they would do with the client otherwise. Yeah. So Brett, we play basketball together at like 16 and then we both went on to play Division I basketball. Talk to me a little bit. I mean, I obviously know some of your journey, but talk to me a little bit about what your sort of impetus is for being in this field, not psychiatry perspective, per se, but sports psychiatry. What is your sort of reason for doing this work?
Oh, yeah, sure. I mean, I think anyone who's lived in sports for any period of time recognizes that it's a great opportunity to learn so many life skills and to form relationships that become the first person foundation for who you are as a person and how you view life, right? So I think I just get excited about the idea of working with athletes and coaches because they're a unique bunch. They're motivated, they're competitive, a lot of personality traits that I just enjoy and find personally rewarding to interact with and work with. So I think for me, it was kind of a natural thing to wanna work with athletes and people that are highly motivated. And I love seeing people bring awareness and insight into themselves and then translate that really into personal growth and well-being eventually.
So cool. Back to like, people talk a lot about pre-game anxiety and we don't use that word because that's a word for you to use, but pre-game nerves, okay? Sure, yeah.
Let's talk, do you have people come to you just for that? And at what point does it get, again, this is kind of back to our previous, but I think this is a good example of like, there is like the natural like fight or flight response that everybody is going to feel, right? It is not a clinical diagnosis or problem.
That is just, in fact, sometimes when you wink at a problem because more of a problem, I'm sure you've seen that as well. Sure. Like, should you feel nervous? Like that's a problem.
No, everybody feels nervous. At what point is it like, not okay? And it's like a problem. And are you treating people with that?
And is that generally like an actual anxiety issue? Or like, where is that? Yeah, great question. I mean, I see this a lot in athletics and then outside of athletics. It's really a performance anxiety, right? And like you said, everyone gets kind of the pre-game jitters, right? And we think of that as the body neurochemically, like preparing for something that it's anticipating, right? And so if that's a piano recital or if that's, you know, the first game of your NBA finals, like it doesn't, you know, it doesn't matter the body is perceiving that it needs to get ready to engage in some activity that's going to take a lot of focus and concentration and physical output, right? So yes, like you said, it's all normal to have those sensations in the body and to have that biochemical thing going on for each person.
The question, and I think you pointed out is, you know, when does that become a problem? And I think of it as something related to perception, right? So if the athlete who's experiencing those sensations has a belief internally that those are a normal part of competition or pre-game, you know, and they're able to actually move through those sensations and channel them into, you know, like a pre-game routine or that person may just feel comfortable knowing, like, oh, yep, all that, you know, jitteriness that's going to work itself out in the first 30 seconds, that person's less likely to develop an actual anxiety related to those physical sensations. On the flip side, if you have someone who is interpreting those same sensations in themselves as problematic, then that can create kind of a cascade of thoughts and accompanying feelings and then other sensations that then kind of compound. And those are the folks that we see being kind of, excuse me, kind of derailed, you know, from their usual kind of routine or they're not able to move through those sensations and really channel those sensations into, you know, purposeful, you know, performance, right? So those folks are sometimes getting caught in that cycle of compounding feelings and thoughts and it's really derailing performance. And so I think you have to look at not just what's happening performance-wise, you know, is this person going out there and kind of repeatedly getting stuck, right? Or unable to kind of get through that. And that's when it might be beneficial to kind of take that person aside and say, okay, let's look at what's going on, you know, with those interpretations you're making of sensations in your body, right?
Because if we can start working with the thoughts and the feelings that accompany those sensations, then we can kind of get back to square one, which is I'm having those pre-gain jitters, we can normalize that and then, you know, build some skills around that time so that those cascading thoughts and feelings don't then kind of become a self-perpetuating cycle, right? I think all of our coaches just pop the help when we said thoughts and feelings. Yeah, thoughts and feelings, it's a lot of thoughts and feelings. And sometimes those thoughts and feelings are unconscious, right?
And so so much of what you guys do is really like bringing mindful awareness to like what those thoughts and feelings are, right? And there, truthfully, there may be some athletes who despite their best efforts to bring their awareness to those thoughts and feelings, they just neurobiologically might not be able to overcome some of that, whatever that pattern is that they've developed. And I think those are the times where especially sports psychiatrists can come in and really be like, oh, okay, we need another tool to pull from the toolbox here. And maybe that's a medication, maybe that's a certain type of therapy that's like an exposure therapy, could be any number of things. But I think that's when someone who has that training in like the biomedical model, and understands the physiology behind the thoughts and feelings can kind of step in and maybe make some additional recommendations or give some additional tools. Right, yeah. And Ken, this might be a good time for you to ask your question about cognitive behavioral therapy if you're interested.
Cause I know we use a process with thoughts, feelings lead to actions lead to results, but you're saying when that's not working and you've tried it multiple times, that it may be time to go to a next level because they're either not aware of the thoughts that are causing that or what have you. Am I understanding that right? Yeah, yeah.
Or that just there's some kind of neurobiologic like feedback loop there that's almost operating independent of the person's ability to manage that with just their own cognitive reframing or kind of mental adjustments, if you will. Yeah, awesome. Ken, do you wanna ask your question?
Which one, one, two or three? Go for it. Yeah. I do have three questions if we're kind of opening them up here.
Yeah, go for it. And there are things that you've talked about, so I'd like to follow up on. So first of all, thank you, Dr. Britt. So kind of on this topic of cognitive behavioral therapy, do you incorporate that CVT when working with clients? It sounds like you do, right, to some aspect, but can you talk about how you use it with different age groups? For example, like a 10-year-old versus an adult?
Yeah, great question. I mean, certainly depending on the age and stage of the competitor, you know, you're gonna have to work within the capabilities of that individual. So for a 10-year-old, I mean, it's keeping it a little more playful, definitely more focused to like maybe one thought, one feeling, one action, right? And really thinking about like taking it down to the basic building blocks, right?
And I have a 10-year-old, so I do this all the time. It's sort of like deconstructing the big process and really just taking that first little step, right? And so, you know, when you have a high schooler or, you know, well, yeah, so let's just say you have a high school athlete, right, and they can work with a few more kind of pieces at a time, you know, you could maybe do a couple rounds of thoughts and feelings and actions and dissect those, right? We're always trying to break it down into workable parts, you know, and I do think that until athletes are about 26, 27 years old, the brain really isn't fully matured and able to manage kind of all of its competing impulses and thoughts and feelings. And so, you know, from the time that kids are able to start working with their thoughts and feelings and actions, you know, we're really just trying to do it in these bite-sized pieces, and then we build on that over time. And for each individual, it might be different, right? You might have someone with ADHD who maybe, you know, might be delayed in their acquisition of certain, you know, mental skills, and, you know, that might, that skill that you're trying to teach might arrive two years later for them than it would for, you know, someone else who's relatively mature who can kind of work with that at age 14, right? So it's person dependent and certainly does, certainly does, that age and stage of life certainly does impact your ability to, you know, just jump right in full speed with cognitive behavioral therapy, because it can be pretty complex.
Okay, thank you. And so kind of as a follow-up that I noticed when working with younger athletes, as you said, they haven't fully developed that mental maturity. And so what I've come across is that many of them fear what their coaches think about them and how it's going to impact their playing time.
How do you typically deal with that? Yeah, that's a big question. And so our culture is so outcome focused, right? And I think to some extent certain coach cultures can also be outcome focused, right? And I think for kids, especially when they're in that concrete developmental phase, which is really until about age 12, 13, you know, we really try not to focus at all on outcome and really just focus on process, right? And this is where we're trying to teach kids growth mindset and how to, you know, allow mistakes and celebrate mistakes. And so some of these things that are talked about more often nowadays, right, are the things that we really want to be kind of promoting through our coaching, you know, up until especially, you know, those teen years. I think of all the work that we can do for kids really before the teen years as being kind of attachment related, right? Meaning like, like, you know, it's the relationship with the coach that allows for the greatest growth potential. And I have a little kind of acronym in my mind.
It's set SET. And for me, it always reminds me the S stands for safe and seen, right? So you want your athlete to feel safe and seen. And the E is encouragement, right? And then the T is trust, right? So if in any interaction with a younger person, you know, you're conveying that you see what they're doing, see their effort, and it's a safe environment for them, they are getting encouragement from you, not necessarily praise, but just encouragement, we break that down. And you know, you're expressing trust, you know, hey, you're going to get this, you know, you got this, this is part of part of your growth experience, right?
If they can just sort of marinate in that until they get to be teenagers, then that's going to set them up to, I think have a more kind of cohesive self image as an athlete and be able to really work with more of the cognitive behavioral kind of components, like as they get into their teen years. We're at Pop Class and everybody can see that every single coach that's on right now is scribbling yours, including myself. Okay, good. I'm happy to email you my little diagram.
And I can, you can love everybody. So one more, just kind of again, they all seem to tie together, but earlier you had mentioned that each sport having a possible mental health fingerprint. And so would it be helpful to identify an athlete's type using something like the right, the riser tap method, or do you have a specific assessment tool that would be helpful for that? Yeah, great question. I, you know, because I don't work as directly with athletes like and coaches, you know, I, I tend to, I tend to go through kind of a mental health framework when I evaluate someone, which is a little different, I think, than maybe what a performance coach or, you know, even sports psychologist would use for their assessment. So for me, it's really more an exploration of through that individual's lens.
And so I don't have a specific tool that I recommend. Thank you. Yeah. Thank you. I just put in the chat if anybody else has a question. So let me know.
Dr. Britt, I just lost my turn, I thought. Oh, I was, I was wondering if you had, you know, obviously confidentiality is in a non-anonymity is important, but do you have sort of any examples of work that you've done with athletes? Like what sort of, why did they come to you? What, what sort of things were they experiencing?
How did you help them? Yeah, great. Let's see. Yeah, I mean, predicting confidentiality, I mean, I think some of some of the athletes that I've really enjoyed working with them, I'll just say one in particular, you know, was a college age student involved in, you know, an elite athletic program at their university here in the Seattle area. And this person was dealing with a lot of life stress in the form of, you know, repeated losses in their teen years with family members and going through some, you know, trauma related to that. And, you know, simultaneously this person had ADHD and it was not well managed and understood and well treated. And I really enjoyed, you know, working with that individual to first really get to know themself, you know, so that they could have a mindful awareness of what was going on for them. And from that place of self-knowing really be able to start manifesting with others in a more authentic way. And that included coaches and teammates and just really, you know, with others in their community in general. And then, you know, after that was more well established really being able to grow and adopt a growth mindset.
So I find that, you know, I kind of, again, I have a framework in my head, which is like, you know, to succeed in life, you first have to know yourself, then you've got to be able to kind of show yourself to others in an effective way and personally and to engage authentically and then you grow yourself from there. So, you know, I enjoy working with athletes that are kind of in that late adolescence transitioning into college age. And then if I'm lucky, they come back after college and we talk about life after sports and entering that next phase. Yeah, which brings me to my question for Michael, which is how important or is there benefit to finding a psychiatrist that specializes in sports or sports psychiatry? Yeah, I think any psychiatrist is going to be, I mean, hopefully any psychiatrist is going to be good at, you know, working with whatever's coming up for that individual. I think if you're lucky enough to have a sports psychiatrist in your area, it's often the added, you know, experience working, you know, in sports or with athletes or understanding sports culture that can really add an extra layer of kind of nuance and subtlety to that work that the psychiatrist might do with the client.
Right. So I think, yeah, whether it's a clinical psychiatrist, you know, who can get to know the person's sport and get to know them and what it's like to work and live in that world. Or whether it's someone who's already has that background knowledge, maybe from their own experience or just working with other athletes.
I think both are good options. Yeah, how do you think your experience as a division one athlete informs your work? I mean, I think just implicitly from having lived that life for 14 years, just devoting oneself to competitive athletics and understanding the mental rigors of that and physical rigors, right? And all of the little kind of traumas that happen along the way with injuries and, you know, relationship with, you know, teammates or, you know, all these things that come up, right? But they're there seem to be kind of intensified because they're happening in a pretty intense sports environment, right? So I just think if someone has lived that, they can bring a more nuanced understanding of that world, you know, to the work that they do with the client. And sometimes I can be comforting for the client because it is a, it is such an intense life, you know, for so many individuals that want to be in an elite sport. Absolutely.
And you had a bad injury in high school too, right? Yeah. Yeah. Because that was what our senior year? That was my sophomore year.
Yeah. And that almost kind of derailed, derailed everything, you know, knee, bad knee injury. But yeah, and I think, you know, for athletes, you know, injuries are so common. I mean, for all the reasons we know, right, when you devote yourself to one sport, you know, put strain on the body. And this is where sports medicine again, kind of comes in, right, to like oversee an athlete's physical and mental journey through sports.
Yeah, absolutely. Pete was asking, what can we do to help young athletes overcome the amount of stress that is put on them to perform at such a high level? He says, we have to bring fun back into your past levels. Oh, yes.
I agree with that last thing, 100%. In fact, yeah, my 10 year old hates it. He says, okay, mom, you know, what am I going to do with the game today? I'm going to have fun, I'm going to have fun, I'm going to have fun. Because I just tell him, you know, here are the three things you got to do, you have fun, you have fun, you have fun.
No, I think it's so important, right? I mean, again, our culture is so outcome focused that that does translate to these kids who are putting so much pressure on themselves and even, you know, youth coaches that are getting into coaching, you know, but kind of bringing that mindset with them even to these younger kids, right? And so I think how to handle the pressure.
I mean, that's a big question, probably take a lot of time to answer. But I think, you know, first is to really understand where the where an individual stress is coming from, right? Because for each person, it's different, you know, some kids are terrified to mess up, some have social anxiety, some might not be able to listen and concentrate well enough to like hear what's going on, you know, at the practice, maybe it's loud. So I think really just getting to know the individual athlete and what it is that's causing the stress is like probably number one.
Because then you can see if any of that is malleable in some way. I mean, there's, you know, a lot of perfectionism and I think anxiety for a lot of kids nowadays. So again, you know, just understanding the origins of whatever those stressors are and being able to like, you know, impact those in whatever way you can, depending on, you know, what age this person is and what stage of development they're at. And then, you know, as far as fun, I mean, I think just, I mean, there's so many things you could you could think about there, but like, you know, getting silly with your sport. I mean, like sometimes I'll tell my kids like, go out and play soccer like you've never played soccer before.
And it's hilarious, you know, it's like what they come up with, you know, it's like, it's funny, right? And then you watch them after they get back to doing it the right way, right? Where they're just more loose, they're more relaxed about it.
Right. And I think sometimes athletes, you know, kids, teens, even elite athletes are just losing that perspective, right? Like what makes this game fun? And I don't know about you, but like there were times where if I got in that, you know, place of, wow, this is not any fun anymore. I'd go watch the Harlem Globetrotters, you know, and like just watch them goof around for 30 minutes on whatever TV special was recorded, you know, on my VHS tape, again, dating myself. But, you know, it's like remembering why you got into your sport and making it fun. So I think if coaches and, you know, team coaches, performance coaches can work in some sort of fun, silly activity into every session. I mean, it really does add that person.
And I think suddenly, not so suddenly communicates the message like this is about fun here, you know, make sure we're having fun. Yeah, I love that answer. I was just writing down your answer to what's causing the stress. I think that is for everybody listening, I think that's a really, really important point. And I think, you know, I have four daughters and only one is really playing a sport right now, but I could see what causes one of them stress is not going to be what causes the other one. And understanding what actually is the thing that is throwing them off is such valuable information and also something that we can help teach them about themselves if we start noticing it.
So I think that's a really big point. Yeah. Nice.
Yeah. And if you're working with multiple athletes, you know, it's even just a question, hey, guys, I want you to think about this. You know, we're not going to answer, but we're just going to take a moment to reflect, you know, like what are the things that stress you out about your sport or like, like how does your sport feel fun, you know, and just getting people to think about it, right? And just developing a little bit of self-awareness with each session, each practice, you know, I think that's another way to kind of just weave that in as much as possible.
I think that's a, I love little tools, right? I mean, I think that's such an easy one that anybody could do. And I think that that brings that awareness and also normalizes, because what you were saying before, as far as like people not even being aware, yeah, they feel all these crazy feelings and the physiological response, the fight or flight response, and then they're like, I shouldn't be feeling this. And it's like, well, if you just understand why, then you understand one, that you're not crazy. And two, that like, this is actually a normal response. If you're worried about this thing, your body's going to respond this way.
And that's all normal. Like I think there's just so many ancillary benefits to just that simple question. Right. Which I think gets back, excuse me, gets back to, you know, the question earlier. It's like, okay, well, when do we refer, you know, to a psychologist or a psychiatrist? And, and, you know, I think one of the biggest benefits that you gain from working with a trained mental health professional is just insight into yourself, right, these patterns of thoughts and feelings that come up automatically, you know, whether you want them to or not.
And for so many people, it's learning what to do with those that really is, that really determines like how, how functional they are or not functional they are in any chosen activity. Right. So, so I think, you know, whatever you can do to support an athlete's development of self awareness and really just allowing whatever their authentic thoughts and feelings may be, so that they can then learn to hold those with a certain kind of integrity and like, you know, really focus on then what they want to do, you know, about how they're feeling and not get stuck dealing with the thoughts and feelings, if that makes sense.
Yeah. Well, I mean, I think probably why you like working with athletes, why we like working with athletes is like, you have this thing that they care a lot about and it's like this mirror of all the shit that's going on in their life and in their mind. And then they get to work on it for maybe even a younger age than they would if they weren't involved in something really seriously. Oh, absolutely.
But it could be music or whatever, but yeah, absolutely. And I think that's again, that's what I love working with, with in sports psychiatry, right, because you work with people that are in these intense environments that also the environment is a tool in a way, right? It allows you to really develop an awareness of self and work with that self in ways that, you know, it's maybe not, I want to say harder to do than just like life in general, but it may happen sooner, right?
It may happen in the teen years and the twenties, right, in the thirties and instead of later in life, you know, so it really can accelerate someone's ability to like really live a full life. Yeah. A couple other questions.
Lynn is what is the impact of injuries to athletes in their mindset? Yeah. Are you seeing that in practice?
Oh, I see. I mean, injuries, whether you're an athlete or not, right? But I think that the the the body's the body and mind's response to injury and trauma is like so varied depending on the person, depending on, you know, whether or not they're relying on their body in a certain way. And so I think for athletes, right, who are whose whole life is so tied to their physicality, like an injury can be a huge trauma, you know, and athletes can rally against that, you know, with a lot of determination and, you know, fortitude. And sometimes that works really well to build resilience and a response to that injury. And then sometimes there's little places that someone can kind of get stuck, you know, in that that kind of mindset as well.
But again, I think it depends on the individual. You have to really get to know the person, the injury, analyze how it happened, and kind of go back and almost re-experience it so that you can sort through, okay, what do we need to work on here? This is the thing this person's avoiding, because it's the injury, we gotta get them back doing that.
Or no, this person's really great. Like they've just kind of come through this and they're ready to go when you send them off, right? So injury can be a tricky one.
And there's no predictable progression. You have to kind of look at each and it's... You had an ACL, like I remember in college, like looking back and I hope that it's different now, I don't know that it is. Like the thought that like, I mean, I had a shoulder injury that I was out for three months, but I imagine you were out five or six with an ACL.
Okay, I fractured my leg too. So yeah, it was a big one. But yeah, I mean, it can really derail you for quite a number of months, right? And I think that's where there can be kind of, I think of it as the post-injury black hole. It's like, where does your mind go when you don't have all the structure of your sport and your training and all of that to kind of anchor you through the day. And those post-injury periods can be, periods of lots of growth, honestly, if they can get really, if we can find a way to get the athlete to really utilize that time, take a different view of their game, really become a student of the game, right? Really learn what it's like to coach the game, right? And I've seen a lot of coaches kind of take in injured players and say, hey, you're gonna be my assistant, and then get them kind of into more of a coaching mindset, which then gives them perspective when they go back to playing, right? So yeah, injuries are tricky.
It seems almost insane though that, especially the level we played at with funding, that there wasn't, like everybody that injured wasn't just automatically given some sort of mental health resource. Like it boggles my mind, like it seems insane. Yeah, totally.
Because a lot of those were like career threatening too, right? It's not just like, like my shoulder was like, I was out, but I knew I was gonna be fine, you know? Like there were a lot of people that it was like, you don't know when she's gonna be back, or if, or if it's one-point-one, like knock on the road, it's awful.
Right, right. And I think about these guys who are, like the NFL players, you know, and it's like you don't know if that next injury is gonna be the one that ends your career, you know? And I remember listening to a podcast one time, it was for getting his first name, but Dr. McDuff, he works with the Ravens and a bunch of the Baltimore teams. And I think he was saying that when he first arrived as like the sports psychiatrist at the facility there, the athletic trainer like basically, you know, dragged him into the locker room and, or into the training room. And it was like, I've been waiting for you for 30 years, you know, and it was this idea that, you know, when we're working with injury and rehabbing someone, you know, there is that whole mental component that really deserves to be addressed and supported, right?
Because that also, I think we've seen with some of the studies recently, I can't quote the numbers here, but I'll try to find one of those studies for you. But it shows that, you know, if we handle the mental impacts of an injury well, the athletes actually less likely to get injured, you know, going forward with that same injury or another. So, you know, I think there's a lot that, a lot that we could do to really have, like you were saying, the funding available for athletes to really like mentally rehab after an injury and physically rehab. And just making sure that that's a priority for all athletes, you know, going forward.
Yeah. Well, it's sort of the reactive, you know, like, I mean, if someone got depressed, you know, I'm sure that there were some resources if they even knew they were, but I imagine that's an opportunity for a lot of people to go and like you said, the black hole. But I do want to tell everybody that's listening. Dr. Britt did promise some research. So I'm gonna put those in the show notes and maybe we can scrounge up that one that you just talked about regarding injury. So you're listening to this, we're gonna put some bonus material in the show notes and point you to some good stuff. So thank you for that, Dr. Britt. Okay, Chris is asking, how can we help an athlete filter against an outcome focused parent or coach?
What are the things we can build within? Yep. I mean, I think just being a voice, like that speaks contrary to that whole outcome focused, you know, whatever mentality, right?
Is just so important. It's like, oh, look, yeah, that cultural mindset that we know really doesn't work for a lot of people. You know, maybe your parents have that, maybe this coach has that. And why don't we just let that be, you know? Cause it's not, you can't really change.
You can't change that, unfortunately, right? And I mean, maybe you could, you could coach the kid depending on how old they are or the athlete to say, hey, you know, this isn't working for me. Like, you know, could we tone it down with the whole outcome based thing?
We all know it's harder to control their people than it is to control ourselves. So I think then it really gets back to you teaching that individual tools to kind of have their own philosophy, their own mindset, right? And so developing, you know, kind of a mantra or like a, you know, whatever personal mission statement or whatever about whatever their sport is and how they want to approach it. I think just being a person that's available for that athlete to like develop that ethos, right? And to like celebrate it.
Like I think that's so important because, you know, it's in a way it balances out all the other outcome based pressures that they're getting from, you know, society, maybe parents, hopefully not parents, but, and then, you know, coaches that don't yet have that more growth based mindset. Yeah, amazing. I love all of this. This is so helpful. I'm just like scribbling notes on all of this stuff.
I have a couple of questions just for you to finish this off. What are you consuming right now? And it can be desperate housewives. It's okay. It's okay. It's okay.
It's okay. You know, nature, honestly, I have been sitting out on my deck. I live in the woods. I had a baby fawn walk through my yard yesterday.
It was the highlight of my day. I'm getting outside, folks. I'm like out in nature. I love it.
It's my happy place. So, both sides, yeah, get some sun. Vitamin D, that's what I'm consuming. What am I consuming? I'm not really big into like, you know, TV at the moment.
I go through my highs and lows. I need to start Ted Lasso because everyone tells me I need to watch Ted Lasso and I can't believe I have not watched Ted Lasso yet. So I'm just gonna put that out there.
That's my intention. Gonna get into Ted Lasso. Chocolate, does that count? Yes, absolutely. There you go. There you go.
There's my trifecta. What are you creating? Oh, well, I was telling you this later. I'm working a little on a blog that has kind of been behind the scenes for a while. And so I'm hoping my goal is just to have some of that ready to go for the end of the year. So I'm doing some blogging, doing some writing.
Yes. What else am I creating? Last year I was really into photography. So I wandered all over the place, did a bunch of photography.
So I'm kind of getting back into that little bit. But yeah, those are my... You were into high school. You were into photography in high school, weren't you? Yeah, it was like a thing.
And then I picked it up two years ago with a buddy. So we've been off and on. Yep. Nice. And then what's one thing you do every day for you?
Ooh. I have my morning ritual, you know? Like this was drilled into me from my dad who I watched his morning ritual forever. And now I'm like, oh, I have a morning ritual. So yeah, it's just the quiet moments getting up and hanging out with the cat for a minute and getting my coffee going and... Get up before the kids?
If I can. I have some early risers and they don't always allow for that. But yeah, I still do it anyway.
I got my little coffee spot in the kitchen and I watched the bird feeders and it's a quiet ritual. So yeah. Guys, Britt lives on Bainbridge Island, which is probably one of the most beautiful places on earth, especially in the summertime. Like the Pacific Northwest is... Yeah, Skylar came up. Did you take the ferry to Bainbridge?
We did, yeah, we spent a day there. And when we were consuming nature, I was just like flashbacks to all the beautiful... I mean, it's very, very nice. The most beautiful... Yeah. Oh, I'm so glad you could come out. That's great.
Yeah, she lives in the most beautiful place. All right. All right, Britt, Dr. Britt, thank you so much for taking the time. Where can people learn more about you? Oh, well, you can always check out my website. It's Bainbridge Mental Health. It's like theislandilivon.com.
And yeah, little bio there. And if you ever just want to reach out, just call our office and if you have a question or professional question I can help with, I'm happy to do that. You're so generous always, as always.
You have been forever. And it's so nice to reconnect and learn from you. I know this is super helpful.
For me, I learned a ton. And I'm so grateful to have you as a resource. And I know that all of our coaches and all of our listeners learn so much from you as well. So thank you so much, not only for us, but just all of us are this little army of people going out into the world and trying to help athletes.
And the more that we can learn from everybody, including you, the better. So thank you so much for taking the time. Oh, you're welcome, my pleasure.
All right, guys. I just loved this episode. Like, I just love being able to talk to Britt about all these things and, you know, talking about ADD and depression and all these things in athletics. And I think her perspective on like the umbrella that all of us are serving different needs within the mental health sort of umbrella in athletics. And obviously her dedication to studying this and really the science and medicine behind it is just a whole different level than what I do and what many of you do. And yet the pieces that sort of, we all can work together.
And I think that was really cool to hear. You know, I think to me, it's almost like on the physical side, we have the strength coaches, we have the physical trainers, the athletic trainers, we have the doctors, we have the surgeons. And, you know, you hopefully don't need all of those, but you might.
And they all serve a different purpose, but the whole goal is the physical health of our athletes. And to really find these partnerships with other people that are doing similar, but also different or even more advanced work than what I'm doing or what you may be doing. But there's a really important piece that all of us are involved in this.
And recognizing where our skill set doesn't match. And, you know, I talk a lot about, I think a lot of people want to get into sports psychology. And I think for the right person, and certainly for someone like Britt, that really wants to get into the neuroscience and the psychiatric component to it.
But there's people like me that don't wanna do that. And potentially, you know, wherever you fall is great, but I think it's really important to know where you're, not only your skill set, because you can always get trained, but where your interest lies. And what do you actually wanna be doing from a day-to-day standpoint? Who do you wanna work with? What problems do you wanna help them solve?
And then, first answering that, and then thinking of what training you need, or school you need, or certification you need. Anyway, so I thought this conversation was just super interesting. And I really took away a couple of big things. One was the set, the making sure as a coach, or I think this is kind of true for any situation, the making sure the person in front of you is safe and seen. To me, that's a lot of the psychological safety. And I talked a lot about that with Trevor Reagan in one of the previous episodes.
I don't remember the number, but you can certainly search for that one. So we talked about that safe and seen. We talked about psychological safety with him. So that's the S, the E is encouragement, making sure that people get motivated and feel that encouragement, and then that trust. I thought that was a really good acronym. And Britt also shared with me after the fact, her, I think we can try to share the image of that diagram on our show notes. And then she also sent some research, and I forget what university it was from.
I just had it open. Anyway, about injuries. We also talked a lot about injuries, and I thought that was a really important part of the conversation as well. And anyway, we'll put that research in the show notes as well. So you can go to positiveperformancetraining.com, check on the podcast page, and go to this episode, and you'll get all the show notes. And it should also be in your podcast player. Yes, at least the link should be in the podcast player. All right, guys, thank you so much for joining us.
If this episode spoke to you, gave you some insight into the mental health of athletes, won't you please share it with somebody? Send them a quick text. You can click that little link on wherever you're listening to it. Send it in a text message. If somebody say, hey, I think you would like listening to this.
If you've done that, and you like this episode, and you like our podcast, please, rate, review, subscribe. It really does help. I appreciate you all so, so much. Thanks for joining us. This was a really important conversation. I know I learned a ton, and I'm so grateful for Britt for joining us. And all of our students, it was really fun to have the sort of live studio audience. So we might be doing that again soon as well. All right, guys, have a great day.
Bye for now. Hey, guys, the Mindset Coach Academy Certification Program will open again in October of 2023. You guys, if you wanna be a Mindset Coach, this is the place, this is the community, this is the program. We're gonna take you through four months of training.
And at the end, you are going to be a positive performance certified Mindset Coach, and a performance visualization specialist. But spots are always limited and is by application only. So I encourage you right now to go to positiveperformancetraining.com and get on that wait list. We open up spots and enrollment to the wait list first so you wanna get on that wait list. Go to positiveperformancetraining.com, and I so hope to see your application come through this fall. Do it.